While home may seem like a haven compared to the pollen and pollution that's outside, untreated indoor air is actually often more contaminated than outdoor air. In fact, the EPA estimates that indoor air is five to ten times more polluted than outdoor air! And while many people are busy shutting up their homes against inclement weather and outdoor pollutants, they are making poor indoor air quality a greater issue by not allowing for adequate circulation throughout the home. So what's an allergy or asthma sufferer to do?
Home air purifiers are the answer, and an important component of any allergy treatment regimen. As with all of our allergy relief products, home air purifiers work on the principle of allergen avoidance. Here's how:
Home Air Purifiers Trap Allergens in the Home
People's homes contain an alarming number of allergy and asthma triggers. Firstly, allergens and pollutants that are outside are brought into the home and collect there: Pollen comes in on people's shoes and clothing and in their hair and settles on carpets and other surfaces. Likewise, visitors can bring pet dander into the home, not to mention the animal dander that collects on carpets, in upholstered furniture, and on bedding (although we recommend never allowing your pets on the bed if you have allergies!) if you own pets yourself. Mold spores, which are easily aspirated and can cause big problems for allergy and asthma sufferers, are another problem. Household pests, such as mice or cockroaches, also leave behind droppings and shed skin and other body parts, all of which can trigger asthma or allergy attacks. Last, but definitely not least, is dust and their attendant dust mites, which thrive in carpets, furniture, bedding, stuffed animals, and on any surface.
Home air purifiers equipped with HEPA filtration do an excellent job of trapping these particles. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particle Arresting, an appropriate name since HEPA filtration captures 99.97% of contaminants down to 0.3 microns in size.
Other Indoor Pollutants Absorbed by Home Air Purifiers
In addition to particulate matter, chemicals, gases, and toxic fumes are also surprisingly common in most indoor environments, and they often exacerbate allergy and asthma symptoms. People suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), even if they don't have allergies or asthma, are greatly affected by the presence of these pollutants. Furthermore, even those who don't seem sensitive to chemicals and fumes may develop sensitivity over time; no matter the situation, it's best to avoid exposure to these poisonous indoor air contaminants, and home air purifiers can help.
Such chemical pollutants come from a wide variety of items in the household. Fresh paint and newly laid carpet are obvious fume-releasers. But did you know that furniture constructed of particle board, such as cabinets or construct-it-yourself furniture contain adhesives that have formaldehyde, a dangerous volatile organic compound (VOC), in them? (IKEA furniture is a notable exception; adhering to strict European standards, they use low-VOC adhesives.) Formaldehyde fumes are also released from permanent press drapes and freshly dry cleaned clothing. Flame retardant chemicals in furniture and even mattresses also release toxic fumes. Common household cleaners also contain poisonous chemicals that create both harmful fumes and harmful residues. And the list could go on and on
It's best to minimize your exposure to these chemicals as much as possible. For instance, use natural cleaning products such as those featured on our Eco-Friendly page and air out your dry cleaning before bringing it into the house. But for those contaminants that you can't control, home air purifiers fitted with activated carbon filtration are the solution.
Activated carbon has a large surface area that attracts and traps chemicals, gases, and fumes. An important component of the way activated carbon works has to do with "dwell time," or the amount of time that the air that's flowing through the unit spends passing through the carbon. Naturally, the amount of carbon in the unit drastically affects dwell time: a thin sheet of carbon doesn't do much; but a unit such as those in the AllerAir 6000 Series, fitted with up to 36 pounds of activated carbon, is quite effective.
Maintaining Home Air Purifiers to Maximize Their Effectiveness
Many times, customers have called us to complain that their air purifiers have stopped working. And most of these times, as our customer service representatives can testify, the problem is simply a matter of cleaning or replacing filters. Some units come with a pre-filter that keeps large particles from getting into the unit and the more fine HEPA and carbon filters. This filter needs to be vacuumed clean or replaced most often, usually every three months or whenever it looks dirty, whichever comes first. HEPA and carbon filters need replacement as well.
We know how hard it is to keep track of when to change your filters. That's why we've created the Clean Air Club, a free service to remind you when it's time to replace your filters so you can keep your indoor air pollutant-free.